The hits just keep on coming.
Following an absolutely stacked July lineup and plenty of must-read thrillers in August, September is shaping up to be another great month for thriller fans.
For starters, the genre’s best hero, CIA counterterrorism operative Mitch Rapp, is back in action in Red War, the latest must-read thriller from Kyle Mills. I cannot say enough good things about this book or the job Mills has done stepping in for the late Vince Flynn. I’m really high on this title and fully expect it to be a top contender for best thriller of the year when is all said and done.
Sheriff Walt Longmire, another fan-favorite character, also returns this month, and Mindy Mejia has another nail-biter ready to go for fans of her hit 2017 thriller, Everything You Want Me To Be. On top of that, Sean Parnell, the New York Times bestselling author of the nonfiction book Outlaw Platoon, is set to release his first thriller. Written in the same vein as Brad Taylor and Dalton Fury, Parnell’s Man of War is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Browse the full list of my favorite thrillers coming out this month below. Happy reading!
Red War by Kyle Mills
Release Date: September 25th (Atria/Emily Bestler Books)
Kyle Mills opens his fourth Mitch Rapp thriller (since taking over the series following the passing of Vince Flynn in 2013) with a bang.
Maxim Krupin, Russia’s fearless president, has inoperable brain cancer. Though his symptoms are minor at first, the cancer quickly worsens. So too do the neurological issues plaguing him, forcing him to rely on more drastic methods in order to conceal his rapidly declining health from the many threats he faces both at home—where the backlash and constant threat of being overthrown is growing by the day—and abroad.
While still strong enough to take action, Krupin preemptively begins assassinating powerful enemies, sending his henchman Nikita Pushkin to kill those he suspects might stand up and oppose him when he’s too weak to fight back.
Formerly, Grisha Azarov, the world-class athlete turned deadly assassin, served as Krupin’s errand boy, a job that once put him on a collision course with Mitch Rapp. Already one of the only men to ever go toe-to-toe with Rapp and live to talk about it, Grisha later joined another exclusive club when he lent Rapp a hand after Mitch took on an especially dangerous assignment that required him to go outside his normal circle of backup operators for support and forgo all ties to the CIA. That mission earned Azarov an IOU, and Rapp settles the bill by showing up in Costa Rica just as Krupin’s men open fire on Azarov’s home—just in time for them to barely escape the assault.
What started as settling a debt for Rapp suddenly turns into more when CIA Director Irene Kennedy receives preliminary reports that Krupin has pulled an old warmonger named Andrei Sokolov from retirement, making the general his top aide and closest confidant. Soon after, Krupin begins invading NATO countries, daring the United States to get involved, a move that would no doubt lead to a nuclear war.
With diplomacy and military actions off the table due to Krupin’s increased hostility, American President Josh Alexander once again turns to his third option, Mitch Rapp, to do the impossible…sneak into Russia and kill Maxim Krupin before it’s too late.
Rapp, who continues to be a one-man wrecking ball disguised as a CIA operator, is back and better than ever. Kyle Mills continues his impressive run of must-read thrillers with Red War, a timely, explosive novel that shows yet again why Mitch Rapp is the best hero the thriller genre has to offer…and why Mills is the only writer capable of filling the enormous void left by Vince Flynn.
If you read just one book this month, make it this one.
Depth of Winter by Craig Johnson
Release Date: September 4th (Viking)
In Craig Johnson’s fourteenth Walt Longmire novel, the sheriff of Absaroka County heads to Mexico, hell-bent on saving his kidnapped daughter.
Last year, Johnson dazzled readers with The Western Star, which featured a brilliant twist followed by a heart-pounding conclusion. Now, Longmire finally deals with the fallout from that ending and is determined to rescue Cady, his only child, who was taken by Tomás Bidarte, the leader of a vicious Mexican drug cartel.
Upon learning that Cady is being held in a compound somewhere in the middle of the Chihuahua Desert, Walt evades American authorities and slips into Mexico. That act proves to be the first in a seemingly endless series of giant hurdles he’ll face, none of which is made easier by his hulking frame. Wherever he goes, Walt, always the largest man in the room, sticks out like a sore thumb. That’s especially true in Mexico, creating a host of problems until his guide/sidekick, a blind man known only as the Seer, comes up with the idea of passing Walt off as former NFL star Bob “Mr. Cowboy” Lilly. It’s a fitting alias since Walt ends up tackling, slamming, and running people down during the nonstop, brawl-filled journey to try and find Cady before it’s too late.
One of the running themes throughout the story is that Walt’s only hope of surviving what everyone, including the sheriff, believes to be a suicide mission, is to become more like the men who’ve wronged him and now hold Cady’s life in their hands. From the get-go, it’s clear that Longmire will do almost anything to save his daughter, unafraid to get down in the mud and get his hands a little dirty. But while he’s willing to do whatever it takes within reason, he’s not a mindless, merciless killer like Tomás Bidarte and his men. That distinction is important, as Johnson stays true to the character he’s created but shows he’s not opposed to stripping him down to the studs and putting him on a collision course with a whole gang of bad guys.
Faced with his most personal mission yet, Walt Longmire takes a little slice of the Wild West to Mexico, where Craig Johnson finally cuts his beloved hero loose…setting up an epic showdown that fans will no doubt be talking about long after turning the final page.
Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia
Release Date: September 4th (Atria/Emily Bestler Books)
Last year, in their review of Everything You Want Me To Be, Publisher’s Weekly teased that “readers will look forward to further work from this talented author,” throwing up an alley-oop that Mejia dunked with thundering force.
Ten years ago, nine-year-old Lucas Blackthorn and his father, Josiah, made their way into the Boundary Waters, an area with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests, and then seemingly vanished.
At the time, authorities speculated that Lucas and his father were the victims of a bear attack, which apparently ransacked their makeshift camp. With nothing else to go on, the father-son duo was presumed dead. As the months passed, search teams gave up and media interest eventually lost steam and died out. Within a year of their disappearance, the world seemed to have forgotten about Lucas and Josiah.
Things take a wild turn ten years later, now in the present day, when a nineteen-year-old Lucas Blackthorn is arrested while trying to rob an outfitter store. Violent and uncommunicative, Lucas is taken to Congdon Psychiatric Facility in Duluth, Minnesota, where he’s placed under a psychiatric hold. There, he meets twenty-three-year-old Maya Stark, a newly-minted speech therapist, who serves as the story’s narrator.
Early on, things are dicey, and Maya has no initial success pulling secrets out of Lucas. But, As the story unfolds, readers discover that Lucas isn’t the only one with deep, dark secrets. It turns out that Maya once did something years ago that landed her in the very same mental health treatment facility where she now works. As her questionable past is brought to life, new questions are raised, setting up a number of reveals and perfectly-timed twists.
Mejia knows how to build suspense, constantly raising the stakes for her characters. Maya and Lucas are both mysterious and well-developed, and their chemistry is palpable. It’s Maya’s own flawed past, full of questionable decisions, that opens the door for her to feel empathetic towards Lucas when everyone else thinks he’s gone mad—while his reasoning, motives, and journey to find answers drive the story forward.
Mindy Mejia kicks things up a notch this year, delivering another page-turner that grabs you early and never lets go. If you’re looking for a nail-biting thriller to sink your teeth into this month, Leave No Trace is as good as it gets.
Man of War by Sean Parnell
Release Date: September 11th (William Morrow)
Decorated combat veteran and New York Times bestselling author of Outlaw Platoon Sean Parnell makes his highly-anticipated fiction debut.
After carrying his commander to safety following an attack on his Special Forces team, Eric Steele was nominated for the prestigious Medal of Honor. However, instead of a high-profile ceremony and photo-op, the request was halted and Steele was given something else instead…the chance to kill bad guys without the abundance of government oversight and bureaucratic red tape that slowed him down in the Army.
After several tours fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, Eric Steele joins an elite, top-secret unit known simply as the Program, where he quickly proves to be the most lethal operator at their disposal.
Meanwhile, 100 miles outside of Tunis, a man named Nate West leads an assault on an armed convoy carrying a small nuclear weapon to a secret location. Once he has possession of the nuke, West plans to use it to attack America, the country he feels betrayed him four years prior. Complicating matters even more is the revelation that the convoy was actually part of a CIA operation, suggesting that West and his men had intimate details of the spy agency’s whereabouts. It also raises questions about Director Robin Styles, who is all too quick to try and erase any record of the agency’s presence in Tunisia.
At the center of everything is Eric Steele, who in another life was once close to West. Steele was there when Nate was thought to have been killed, and he grieved the loss of his friend. Now, he’s faced with the shocking and devastating reality that his former teammate has gone rogue and is knee-deep in a plan to strike a blow to America.
From brothers-in-arms to warriors on opposite sides of a raging conflict, Steele is tasked with his most personal mission yet…stopping Nate West at all costs in order to save millions of innocent lives.
Obviously, Parnell knows his stuff when it comes to the military and how Special Forces operators walk, talk, and handle themselves on and off the battlefield. At twenty-four years old, he was named the commander of a forty-man infantry platoon tasked with rooting out Pakistan-based insurgents from a mountain valley along Afghanistan’s eastern frontier. Here, with Man of War, Parnell brings that same raw honesty to his story. Steele and the other characters speak and move with the kind of realism that only someone who’s been there and done that can re-create on the page—allowing him to stand out in a crowded genre.
Falling somewhere between Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath and Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan, Eric Steele is a formidable new protagonist whom readers will love following around as he leaves a trail of bodies in his wake. If you like conspiracies and bold, larger-than-life characters, Man of War hits fast, hard, and never lets up for a second.
The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer
Paperback Release: September 18th (Grand Central)
Jim “Zig” Zigarowski, the Port Mortuary Branch Chief at Dover, spends each day with fallen troops. His job goes far beyond conducting autopsies. The bodies that arrive at Dover often need delicate care in order to be pieced back together.
When parents, spouses, and children come to claim the remains of their beloved soldiers, they often want to see the body. And it’s Zig’s job to make sure the fallen look the way people remember them so that their families can have the proper closure they need. As Zig knows all too well, closure is an important part of the grieving process.
What begins as an ordinary day quickly turns into anything but. Zig purposely signed up to work on the remains of Nola Brown. When her name first appeared on the list of victims from a plane crash, he recognized it immediately. Checking to make sure it was the same Nola he knew from nearly fifteen years ago was simple. Zig has plenty of security access, and for those rare times his clearance level isn’t high enough, he’s got friends in high places with enough juice to get the info he needs—including this time, when he confirmed that this Nola Brown was the same Nola Brown from his hometown. The same Nola who once bravely, selflessly, did something for his own daughter that Zig would never forget.
But as he gets to work repairing the body, Zig quickly realizes it’s not Nola. It can’t be. He’s able to confirm as such by running the deceased’s fingerprints. But why, he wonders, would someone try to pawn this body off as Nola Brown? Surely, it couldn’t be an accident. The triple-check system is in place for this very reason. Several people would have to sign off on the soldier’s identification. Determined to get answers, Zig starts poking around. Going back to the body, he finds a chilling secret message intended for the real Nola, confirming that she is, indeed, out there…and that she’s in serious danger.
Putting his life on the line, Zig decides to risk everything in order to try and find Nola Brown so he can deliver the hidden message before it’s too late. But his search raises more questions than answers, especially when he finds out that the plane Nola supposedly died on took off from a secret military base in Alaska. As he presses on, Zig eventually discovers a centuries-old conspiracy that can be traced all the way back to the world’s most famous escape artist of all time: Harry Houdini.
Meltzer has a gift for turning average Joes into unlikely heroes, and he’s done it again here. Zig, like so many of us, is just an average guy who cares about his job and tries to do right by others. He’s vulnerable, honest, and cares about doing the right thing, almost to a fault. He’s real, relatable, and Meltzer develops him brilliantly.
That said, Nola is the star here, and trust me, the less you know about her heading into this one, the better. In fact, all you really need to know is this: Nola Brown is Meltzer’s strongest female character yet, and when it’s all said and done, she’ll stand among the year’s best new characters. Period.
While he’s done it all–from penning New York Times bestsellers to hosting multiple hit television shows—Meltzer hasn’t ever written anything quite like his latest book. The Escape Artist is thrilling, yet full of soul. It’ll entertain you and teach you. It’ll have you cheering, but it’ll also grip you emotionally. When you’re on the brink of tears, Meltzer makes you laugh. Toss in nonstop suspense, blind-siding twists and turns, a fascinating conspiracy, and plenty of action, and you’ve got a story unlike anything else currently sitting on bookstore shelves—a story that only Brad Meltzer could tell.
So, who is Nola Brown? Pick up Brad Meltzer’s The Escape Artist, available in paperback on September 18, and find out!